Democracy, Debt, and Confession: The Politics of Failure in Europe and the Middle East
Co-Sponsored by Centre for International Studies and the Middle East Centre, University of Oxford
“At the heart of contemporary politics lies an injunction to emancipate ourselves, from authoritarian regimes and radical Islamism in the 'Middle East', to personal and national debt in the ‘West’. Yet an examination of the politics of democracy-promotion in the Middle East and of the politics of debt in Europe shows that the conditions under which we labour to achieve such emancipation tend to prevent us from doing so. Our ‘failures’ legitimise disciplinary actions against us, make emancipation even more unlikely, and ultimately mask the impossibility of the task enjoined. Drawing upon Foucault’s embryonic analysis of confession, it is possible to sketch the complexities of this politics of care, failure, and discipline."